Austin’s Andrew Hagan wins shot put and discus title at youth state meet

Published 4:02 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2009

He stands six-feet, four-inches tall and weighs 300 pounds. He’ll be an eighth grader in the fall.

And he’s just getting started.

While he’s only been throwing the shot put and discus for about two years, Andrew Hagan of Austin took first place at the AAU 13-14 year-old Youth Division state meet in Eagan, Minn. this past weekend.

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Andrew threw the shot put 38 feet and nine inches (his personal best is 42 feet) and he threw the discus a personal best distance of 120 feet and eight inches.

“I was very shocked and it was a surprise,” Andrew said of his success. “It just comes down to practice and going to camps. I practice every day whether it’s going to the track or just throwing a few times in my yard.”

Hagan was most proud of the fact that he kept his cool and didn’t scratch on his long throws by stepping out of the wrong side of the circle on the discus.

“At throwing camp in Gustavus, they told us it may seem like a bad throw, but it can still be good. So I took my time,” Andrew said. “First I had a wobbly throw that went 117 feet, then my dad (Ellis Middles School throwers coach Dewey Hagan) told me to keep it straight and it would go farther. He was right.”

Moving on

Andrew will now throw at the National Regional meet June 26 and June 27 in Pella, Illinois and if he advances there he will advance to the National meet in Des Moines, Iowa in July.

To get to nationals, he will have to finish in the top-two or throw a qualifying distance (both of his throws at state would’ve qualified him for nationals.)

“I plan on doing well because I’ll be practicing a lot to get everything down,” Andrew said.

After a successful season with the Ellis Middle School track and field team where he took first place in most meets this season, Dewey found out about the AAU Youth meet on-line and signed up Andrew to compete. Dewey said the focus is always on improving Andrew’s distances and not so much about winning or losing.

“To keep the pressure off we always talk about getting a personal best and not getting caught up in who’s got the best distances in the field,” Dewey said.

Picking up pointers

Andrew threw with the Austin High School JV team at a couple of meets this season. He was impressed with the support he received from Austin coaches Tony Einertson and Randy Smith, and Austin varsity throwers Joe Diggins, Tyler Bentzin and Manny Franco.

“All of these people were talking and being supportive, I wasn’t used to that and didn’t know what was going on,” Adam said. “I’m so used to being the biggest and at the top of the list (in junior high meets). It felt good to be at the bottom of the list.”

Andrew hopes he can throw on the varsity team next season as an eighth grader to help out with the team score on a regular basis.

Discovering throwing

Andrew really didn’t have much interest in track and field, until his older brother Will Hagan, who graduated from Austin High in 2008, told him to give it a try his sixth grade year.

In 2008, Will and a few of his Packer teammates advanced to state in the 4 x 400-meter relay, but it wasn’t just the running that caught Andrew’s interest when he attended the meet.

“He saw Owatonna’s Casey Dehn (two-time state champ in the discus and shot put) throw and he said that’s what he wanted to do,” Dewey said.

But it wasn’t just strength that has carried Andrew this year. After throwing the discus as short as 60 feet (half of his personal best distance) this season, Andrew made a switch to the South African half-spin method.

He’s put in some time and has seen his personal best throw increase by almost 11 feet since making the switch.

“He doesn’t quite have it perfected yet, but it’s been a big help,” Dewey said. “The shot put is mostly about strength, but discus is more about technique.”

Andrew has enjoyed his success in the discus and it has now become his favorite event.

“Right now I prefer discus, but maybe the shot put will come along too,” Andrew said.

If Andrew keeps putting in the time he already has, they’ll probably both come along quite well.